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Many people with OSA rely on positive air pressure therapy, or PAP therapy, which delivers a steady ventilation and helps. Continuous PAP machines, or CPAP machines, are bedside devices that provide pressurized air at a fixed rate throughout the night using breathing masks that connect directly to the generator.
Several mask types are available. CPAP full face masks, one of the most common types, are particularly useful for people who sleep with their mouths open. Despite their name, CPAP full face masks may also be used with bi-level positive air pressure machines, or BiPAP machines, which deliver air at different rates for inhalations and exhalations, and are typically prescribed to patients with CSA.
This guide will look at some general characteristics of CPAP full face masks, buying considerations, and our list of the top-rated full face mask models. Our top picks are listed below. These choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as our own product research and analysis.
The Fisher & Paykel Forma Full Face Mask – our Editor’s Pick – is a standout product for several reasons. The mask is designed with a resilient silicone seal to prevent air from leaking during the night. It is also cushioned with FlexiFoam, a material that provides comfortable contouring regardless of the wearer’s head size.
The Forma Full Face Mask also benefits sleep partners thanks to a built-in air diffuser, which prevents air from blowing onto other areas of the bed. The mask’s headgear includes a chinstrap for added jaw support and optimal breathing throughout the night.
At less than $90, the Forma Full Face Mask is priced lower than many competing models. The product is also backed by a 90-day warranty.
A common complaint about full face masks is that they are bulky and heavy, which can cause head/neck pain and other discomforts for sleepers. The Amara Full Face Mask from Philips Respironics is a notable exception. Thanks to its lightweight frame, the mask does not weigh the head down or cause neck strain for most wearers.
Customers can choose from standard or gel silicone cushions, both of which can be attached to and detached from the mask with a simple one-click mechanism. The headgear also includes adjustable forehead support, which can help prevent sleepers from developing nighttime headaches.
Buyers can choose from Petite, Small, Medium, and Large sizes. The Amara Full Face Mask is also backed by a 90-day warranty.
Many women find that unisex full face masks tend to favor men’s facial dimensions. For this reason, many manufacturers offer ‘for her’ masks designed to accommodate a woman’s facial structure, which tends to be narrower and shorter by comparison. Our top pick for this category is the ResMed AirFit F20 for Her.
Recognizing that women’s dimensions can vary significantly, the mask has adaptive wings for an adjustable fit. It also features stretch-fabric straps that contour to the wearer’s face regardless of its dimensions. Another strap cradles the chin for added jaw support.
The mask is available in three sizes: Small, Medium, and Large. It is backed by a 90-day warranty.
Sleep apnea — a condition affecting millions of Americans — is characterized by a temporary loss of breath during sleep. Most apnea episodes last 20 to 40 seconds, but people with the condition may experience up to 100 or more episodes per night.
There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is caused by physical impediments in the breathing passages that restrict air circulation; and central sleep apnea (CSA), which occurs when the brain cannot properly transmit signals to the breathing muscles.
There is no known cure for sleep apnea, but many patients alleviate their symptoms with continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) therapy. This therapy involves CPAP machines, devices that draw in outside air, humidify it, and pressurize it before delivering the air to sleepers via a connective hose and face mask.
This guide will discuss full face CPAP masks, one of the three main types. Read on to learn more about full face masks in terms of construction and pricing, how they differ from nasal cradle and nasal pillow masks, and prescription requirements for first-time buyers.
Components: As the name implies, CPAP full face masks are designed to fit snugly over the user’s nose and mouth. Most full face masks feature five primary components:
An airtight seal is required over the nose and mouth for effective air delivery. To ensure the mask is not uncomfortable, full face masks models feature extra cushioning around the perimeter that maintains the seal while also providing a more comfortable fit. The cushion may be made from different materials, such as cloth, gel, silicone, or foam. The cushion is usually replaceable.
The elbow port may be longer or shorter. Additionally, some elbow sports may be swiveled 360 degrees; this allows the mask wearer to adjust their sleep position without compromising the connection to the hose.
Headgear straps are located at the jaw, and wrap around the back of the head to connect at the base of the neck. Additional straps may wrap around the forehead and connect in the same place; this is known as forehead support. The straps are secured with buckles, ball-and-socket joints, or hook-and-loop closures to ensure they won’t come undone during the night. Some models feature a dial that allows wearers to adjust how tight or loose the mask feels in small increments; both straps will tighten or loosen simultaneously as the dial is turned.
Sizes: Full face mask frames are usually available in Small, Medium, and Large sizes to accommodate users with different facial dimensions; the headgear may be sized differently based on the size of the frame. Some models are also available in dedicated male and female designs, as well as those made for users with relatively small or wide faces.
It’s important to note that any type of face mask will be compatible with most CPAP machines, provided the hose offers a secure connection between the mask and the generator. Furthermore, the mask has no bearing on the airflow rate, humidifier capacity, and factors related to other components of the machine. For most, mask choice comes down to two factors: comfort and budget.
Care: Cleaning full face masks is fairly straightforward: simply apply an alcohol wipe to the interior and exterior of the mask, as well as the straps. Never, under any circumstances, should a CPAP full face mask be washed or laundered in a machine. The cushion and complete mask should be replaced periodically (unless the cushion is not replaceable); Medicare allows users to replace the cushion every three months, and to replace the mask every six months.
Pricing: Although price-points vary and some models are available for as little as $55 to $60, most CPAP full face masks cost between $80 and $150. Please note that full face masks are only available with a doctor’s prescription.
Now let’s look at CPAP machines. Like the face masks, CPAP machines are only available with a doctor’s prescription, and cannot be purchased over the counter. If you have sleep apnea, please discuss CPAP machines and other options with your physician.
Irrespective of the mask, CPAP machines feature the following components:
The final component is the face mask, which is sold separately from the CPAP machine.
The operating procedure for a CPAP machine is as follows:
1. Place the machine on a flat, level surface that comfortably reaches the sleeper’s face using the connective hose. Never set a CPAP machine anywhere that presents a risk of falling during the night.
2. To power the machine, plug it into the nearest AC outlet.
3. Make sure the humidifier is filled with distilled water; top off as needed.
4. Secure the connective hose to both the face mask and the generator.
5. Turn on the machine; it should be ready to use immediately.
6. Adjust the settings as needed during the night.
CPAP machines deliver air at a prescribed rate based on the user’s settings; a doctor can help determine the best airflow rate based on the patient’s individual apnea diagnosis. The airflow output of a CPAP machine is measured in centimeters of water, or cmH20. Apnea patients generally need an airflow rate of 6 to 14 cmH20, and most CPAP machines can deliver anywhere from 4 to 20cmH20.
Next, let’s look at how full face masks compare to other CPAP mask options. In addition to full face masks, CPAP machine users may choose from nasal cradle and nasal pillow mask types. The table below lists similarities and differences between the four most common CPAP mask designs.
|CPAP Mask Type||Full Face||Nasal Cradle||Nasal Pillow|
|Appearance||The mask forms a seal that extends from the bridge of the nose to the bottom of the mouth||The mask forms a seal that extends from the bridge of the nose to the upper lip May feature a chin-strap that keeps the mouth closed||The mask fits into both nostrils, and only covers the area between the tip of the nose and the upper lip|
|Sizes||Available in multiple sizes, as well as men's and women's models||Available in multiple sizes, as well as men's and women's models||Available in multiple sizes, as well as men's and women's models|
|Most suitable for...||People who require high-pressure air delivery People who breathe through their mouth Back-sleepers||People who require high-pressure air delivery People who toss and turn in their sleep Side-sleepers||People who do not require high-pressure air delivery People who feel uncomfortable wearing a larger, bulkier mask, as well as those with facial hair|
|May not be suitable for...||Side- or stomach-sleepers (due to the bulky design) People who wear glasses or have facial hair||People who breathe through their mouth People with allergies (blocked sinuses can impact the CPAP delivery)||People who need CPAP therapy on high-pressure settings People who do not normally breathe out of their nose|
|Pros||Secure straps keep the mask in place if the wearer tosses and turns Good option for people who have trouble breathing through their nose||Most effective nasal mask for high-pressure air output (14 cmH20 or higher) Best design for side-sleepers||Less expensive than other mask options Lightest and least invasive mask type|
|Cons||Most expensive mask option (on average) Too bulky and heavy for some||Can cause irritation in the areas around the face fitting Not suitable for mouth breathers unless a chin-strap is used||High discomfort potential on high-pressure CPAP settings Direct air pressure may cause nasal dryness or nosebleeds|
|Average price range||$80 to $150||$80 to $110||$50 to $75|
When comparing different CPAP full face mask brands and models, here are a few important factors to keep in mind:
Prescription requirements for CPAP face masks and other components can be confusing. In this next section, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about CPAP prescriptions.
|Do I need a prescription for CPAP machines?||You don't need a prescription for the entire CPAP machine – just three key parts. Sleep apnea patients require a doctor's prescription to legally purchase CPAP airflow generators, humidifiers, and face masks. These three components are categorized as Class II medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Other CPAP machine parts, including connective hoses and air filters, do not hold this FDA classification. They can be purchased over the counter.|
|Why do I need a prescription for these CPAP components?||Prescriptions for CPAP equipment are important for two main reasons. First, CPAP machines – as well as BiPAP and APAP machines – are customized for individual users. Doctors prescribe airflow settings based on evaluations that determine the patient's optimal pressure delivery level(s). If that patient uses a machine that is not calibrated to the correct setting, he or she may not experience relief from their sleep apnea symptoms. In some cases, symptoms may worsen. The second reason is insurance purposes. Although patients don't need medical insurance to buy CPAP equipment, insurance companies require a prescription to cover device costs for those who can't afford to buy them out-of-pocket.|
|Will anyone sell me a Class II medical device without a prescription?||Yes, but they are breaking the law – and so are you. The FDA regulates the sale of Class II medical devices, and those who sell these devices must receive FDA approval to do so. According to current FDA regulations, medical device sellers must demand a prescription from customers attempting to buy CPAP generators, humidifiers, or face masks. Most non-prescription CPAP transactions are coordinated through private online sales. In addition to being illegal, transactions of this nature typically involve used, refurbished, and/or modified machines. These devices can pose health risks to the buyer, including complications due to using improperly calibrated equipment and exposure to germs and bacteria from previous users. Quality assurance is another consideration; buyers have no assurance the machine operates properly, nor will they receive warranty coverage.|
|How do I obtain a prescription for FDA-regulated CPAP equipment?||In order to qualify for a CPAP prescription, patients must receive a sleep apnea diagnosis from one of the following licensed or certified professionals:
|What does my CPAP prescription need to say?||In order to legally purchase a CPAP machine, the prescription must include the following: